By Kimatni D. Rawlins
Since the very inception of the Toyota Camry, it has won over the hearts and souls of consumers globally for its penchant for reliability, fuel efficiency, and dependable character traits. Manifested from the Japanese word “kanmuri,” which translate to crown, the four-door, midsize sedan is something special to company executives. As America’s bestselling vehicle for the last 15 years, the 2018 Toyota Camry delivers nothing short of nobility.
Now in its eighth generation, the Camry gasoline versions will go on sale as the L, LE, XLE, SE, and XSE, while the Hybrid is offered in LE, SE, and XLE. Amazingly, the Hybrid and its 208-horsepower Hybrid System Net Power were a joy to drive during my evaluation in the adventurous state of Oregon. But more importantly, the Ultra Low Emissions Vehicle II has an EPA-estimated 52 MPG combined (LE model). The Hybrid will comprise 5 percent of 2018 model year sales mix.
Typically when something isn’t broke, there is no need to fix it. Though Toyota doesn’t have a problem marketing or selling the Camry brand, we live in a digital age where customers are smarter, savvier, and technologically hungrier. So it was no surprise that the styling for Toyota’s field general was revolutionized with a “tech edgy” theme, sporty attributes, and aggressive components. Think of what Nissan did with the Maxima a few years back. No longer will you look upon a Camry as mundane and boring, especially if you focus on the sportier SE and XSE models, as I did. Overall, its stance is wider and height has been reduced by 1” for a lower center of gravity. The vehicle features a snarling two-piece grille that flows into a lowered aluminum hood for a stronger profile.
I tested two 2018 Toyota Camry XSE vehicles from each engine type, starting with the all-new 2.5-liter Dynamic Force 4-cylinder with Dual Injection and 208-horsepower and 186 lb.-ft. of torque. Expect 39 highway MPG for extended summer road trips. The revised 3.5-liter V6 D-4S Dual Injection engine produces 301-horsepower and 267 lb.-ft. of torque at 4,700 rpm, and gets you about 32 highway MPG. Both are paired with the new Direct Shift 8-speed automatic transmission that allows for sequential shift patterns. On the road, the V6 really moves, especially in Sport mode using the paddle shifters. I was able to quickly accelerate up to 80 mph in 3rd gear. But keep in mind the V6 Camry will only account for 6 percent of the sales mix. Although the Camry is blessed with a new chassis do not expect an adaptive suspension.
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